Sunday, April 17, 2011

National Poetry Month-Generation to Generation

Today I give you a poem from Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  I adore his book The Little Prince.  That book and the Bible are the only two books I have owned in three different languages.  In both his book and this poem Saint-Exupery speaks of the importance of rituals, not for ritual's sake, but in "taming" a person to friendship and in transmitting meaning to our children.  I thought it would be a nice choice this week since Passover and Holy Week have begun, both times of meaningful ritual if one observes and takes time to consider why they engage in certain activities.  If you are not observant of either tradition I'm sure you may have some other meaningful rituals you observe in life as you go along your way.  Please take a moment to read and then share with me what it is you do to pass along to the next generation the things that make life rich or build connections and community.  If you can't think of any I challenge you to consider what peaceful rituals you may establish to accomplish connections and community.



Generation to Generation

In a house which becomes a home,
one hands down and another takes up
the heritage of mind and heart,
laughter and tears, musings and deeds.
Love, like a carefully loaded ship,
crosses the gulf between the generations.
Therefore, we do not neglect the ceremonies
of our passage: when we wed, when we die,
and when we are blessed with a child;
When we depart and when we return;
When we plant and when we harvest.
Let us bring up our children. It is not
the place of some official to hand to them
their heritage.
If others impart to our children our knowledge
and ideals, they will lose all of us that is
wordless and full of wonder.
Let us build memories in our children,
lest they drag out joyless lives,
lest they allow treasures to be lost because
they have not been given the keys.
We live, not by things, but by the meanings
of things. It is needful to transmit the passwords
from generation to generation.

~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

7 comments:

tattytiara said...

Ritual does make sure we don't forget what we need to know when we forget why we need to know it.

Dave said...

Michelle, I tried to set a tradition in our family when the kids were young to play Jim Reeve's Christmas songs every Christmas but after they became adults Jill decided we wouldn't play it any more. The only other thing is that our daughter still remembers advice I gave them when they were kids and she occasionally refers to them and quotes them back to me - Dave.

G-Man said...

We Make Pirogi's and Baklava together...

Suldog said...

AMEN! Saint-Exupery was magnificent. MY WIFE and I especially love another of his quotes:

"Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction."

Craig said...

Oh, my. . . that is a wonderful poem, Michelle. It just made my Poetry Hall of Fame.

So wonderfully evocative of the connections of family, and why 'society' can never replace them. And that there really is a heritage to be handed down. Really rich. . .

We do various things to build family identity, from our weekly sabbath ceremonies, to the bigger, annual things, like the seder, lamb and baklava on Easter, turkey and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and we have a whole raft of stuff we do at Christmastime (including a reading of O. Henry's 'Gift of the Magi'). And there are a couple families of close friends who have shared many of these traditions with us for years (1F, who is turning 29, can't remember not doing most of them. . .)

In recent months, our college-age kids have begun bringing their friends over for Sunday brunch, and even among the friends, it has become a valued tradition, and they always remark appreciatively the first time they have brunch with us, that, "I finally made it. . ."

Cricket said...

Very nice. You certainly seem to be taking Nat'l Poetry Month to heart.

As I wrote in a recent post, my life is full of ritual, not just with my grandmother. It's just the way I do things.

One thing I have done with my boys, that they at least tolerate, and i hope they will remember, is that I insist we start and end the day with a hug, kiss, and I love you. No matter what has happened in the in-between. That is what I do when I first see them, and the last thing before I leave them in their beds.

I am not always pleased with my efforts as "Dad," but I think that is something I did right.

secret agent woman said...

I treasure the traditions my kids and I have as a family.

(The Little Prince is the only book I've actually read in another language.)